You may have gone to school or work with them. In school, they’re the popular kids who get slaps on the wrist for breaking the rules and get passing grades despite barely studying or showing up to class. At work, they’re the ones your boss promotes or gives a raise to over more deserving individuals, yourself probably included. They’re the ruling faction who’s got the authority figure’s ear, and back in the mid-late ‘90s, the WWF had one such group. You may know them as The Kliq.
The Kliq’s leader was none other than the Heartbreak Kid, Shawn Michaels, and his fellow Kliq members included, but may not have been limited to: Scott Hall (a.k.a. Razor Ramon), Kevin Nash (a.k.a. Diesel), Sean Waltman (a.k.a. 1-2-3 Kid, later X-Pac), and Hunter Hearst Helmsley (later Triple H). In many combinations, these men were almost like WWF’s de facto booking committee, and were always there to pitch their ideas to Vince McMahon, who’d often agree with what they had to say. They thought they were hot stuff, and they often turned out to be hot stuff. But it was no shock that a lot of wrestlers didn’t like them.
Time heals wounds, as they say, and a lot of wrestlers in this list have since mended their fences with The Kliq. But back in The Kliq’s heyday, they were among those who felt most negatively about one or more members of the backstage faction and what they stood for.
NOTE – This list only includes in-WWF /WWE examples, not examples in WCW after Hall and Nash helped form the New World Order (nWo). It also doesn’t include the late Chyna, whose animosity with certain Kliq members manifested after she left WWF.
15 ADAM BOMB (a.k.a. BRYAN CLARK)
He's probably best-known as one-half of KroniK in WCW, but prior to that, Bryan Clark competed in WWF as Adam Bomb, a midcarder whose gimmick was that of a big guy from Three Mile Island. And he claimed in a 2008 shoot interview to have been one of the top victims of The Kliq’s childish backstage pranks, with Razor Ramon and 1-2-3 Kid being the top offenders. He also admitted in that same interview to having hated Michaels back in the day, and the most printable, least profane thing he had to say was that HBK was, before quitting drugs and finding God, “just a bad person.”
14 JIM NEIDHART
During the time Michaels and Bret Hart’s mutual hatred had reached critical mass, The Kliq arguably had it in for anyone within Hart’s inner circle. Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart wasn’t as disliked by Kliq members as his brother-in-law Bret, but all accounts point to him being as pissed-off at their antics as the Hitman and many other Hart family members.
With Neidhart making good on his promise to leave the WWF in protest over the Montreal Screwjob, The Kliq made sure to give him an unforgettable on-air sendoff – ostensibly welcoming him into DX, but turning on him and spray-painting the letters “WCW” on his back while he was knocked out.
The Man They Call Vader debuted in WWF in 1996 with great expectations and three WCW World Championship reigns, but it would appear that Shawn Michaels was no fan of Vader’s legendarily stiff wrestling style. And the Heartbreak Kid, as expected, didn’t like wrestling Vader when the time came for it, as he had memorably broken character in their match at SummerSlam 1996. After Vader had botched a spot, failing to roll away from an HBK elbow drop as he should have, Michaels repeatedly yelled “MOVE!” at the 400-plus-pounder, throwing a tantrum in front of a live pay-per-view audience.
After that match, Vader’s WWF push was never the same again, and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out who may have nixed it behind the scenes.
12 THE HARRIS TWINS
Although Ron and Don Harris never got past the midcard under multiple WWF gimmicks, their encounter with Michaels in 1996 is one of the more colorful Kliq-related stories in backstage lore.
The story is that Ron Harris, accompanied by brother Don, reacted to HBK “smarting off one too many times” by dropping by Shawn and the 1-2-3 Kid’s private dressing room, propping chairs up by the door so nobody would leave, and choking Shawn out. That may have happened years before Michaels became a born-again Christian, but the incident appeared to put the fear of God into him, at least on that night.
11 BOB HOLLY
If you've reads his autobiography, you'll know that Bob Holly did have some issues with the Kliq as well. Though he never got into any direct confrontations with Kliq members, he explained in his book that he was often disgusted by their behavior, which included Sean Waltman not lifting a finger in the aforementioned Shawn Michaels vs. Ron/Don Harris confrontation. And while Waltman mostly got off easy on The Hardcore Truth, Holly feels that his actions, or lack thereof, during the incident were tantamount to cowardice.
While Holly also appears to have made peace with Michaels, he remains royally pissed at Hall and Nash, saying in a 2015 shoot that he still wants to “smack (Hall) in the face.”
10 CHRIS JERICHO
Want a rare example of a wrestler whose issues with The Kliq extended into WWE days? Look no further than Y2J himself, Chris Jericho. His second autobiography notes that he had serious heat with Triple H for accidentally giving his then-girlfriend Chyna a black eye during their Intercontinental title feud in late 1999. But Triple H wasn’t the only Kliq member whom Jericho had issues with. And for that, we’ll have to go to Y2J’s third autobiography.
One chapter in The Best in the World…At What I Have No Idea discusses how a drunken Jericho (or “Drunkicho” as he calls himself) acted extremely loud and belligerent during a 2008 WWE tour, to the point where he suggested Shawn Michaels’ wife and kids had no business backstage. Michaels, who at that time had reformed his drugging and politicking ways as a born-again Christian, was extremely miffed at Jericho’s drunken behavior, and it took Jericho several attempts at an apology before both men were good with each other again.
9 MABEL (a.k.a. VISCERA/BIG DADDY V)
You know who’s to blame for Mabel losing his mega-push? It’s none other than “Big Daddy Cool” Diesel, or Kevin Nash as we all knew him after his 1996 departure from WWF. Nash claims that Mabel was a terrible worker at the time he was King of the Ring in 1995, and was extremely reckless and sloppy during their matches. Worse, Mabel allegedly refused to honor Nash’s request that he no longer do his (improperly done) sitdown splash, and ended up straining Nash’s abdomen during their WWF Championship match at SummerSlam 1995.
Mabel wasn’t fired for his alleged incompetence, but he did lose his push almost immediately. He dropped down to the midcard and easily lost a feud to The Undertaker, but not before he accidentally broke the Deadman’s orbital bone in a match. WWF had enough of the clumsy giant at that point, but this time, it was through his own undoing.
8 RICK RUDE
A founding member of the DX stable, the late Rick Rude was officially done as a wrestler when he returned to WWF in August 1997 after several years with WCW. With injuries having ended his wrestling career early, Rude was no longer the long-haired “Ravishing” braggart who saw himself as God’s gift to women. Instead, he was a short-haired, suit-wearing bodyguard who seemed to get along well with DX members Shawn Michaels and Triple H, despite taking a back seat to the two stable leaders.
That wasn’t the case backstage, apparently. Bret Hart claims in his autobiography that Rude never trusted The Kliq, and those claims were pretty much validated when he took advantage of his pay-per-appearance deal with WWF and rejoined WCW in protest of the Montreal Screwjob.
7 BAM BAM BIGELOW
Some time before his untimely death in 2007, Bam Bam Bigelow cut a shoot interview where he said it in clear and plain terms – The Kliq had “strength in numbers,” and used that strength in the locker room to tell Vince McMahon what to do. He talked about how Kliq members would “toy with people’s emotions (and) livelihoods” if they didn’t like them, and would have carte blanche over who stayed or who went in WWF.
Given his backstage issues with The Kliq, it was ironic that Bigelow’s final WWF storyline had him teamed up with Diesel as they feuded with Bam Bam’s ex-Million Dollar Corporation stablemates. But he was obviously unhappy during his final year with the company, and he soon moved on to ECW, where he was much happier and more appreciated backstage.
6 JEAN-PIERRE LAFITTE (a.k.a. QUEBECER PIERRE)
With the disbandment of The Quebecers due to Jacques Rougeau’s brief retirement, the former Quebecer Pierre was repackaged as pirate Jean-Pierre LaFitte, and was put in a go-nowhere feud against Bret Hart. His wins mainly came against local talent, and as far as the main WWF roster went, he was a gimmicky guy in the lower card.
In September 1995, LaFitte got serious heat with the Kliq, and as is often the case, it was due to Kliq members controlling the booking to their liking. This time, it was Shawn Michaels who convinced the booking committee to have his buddy Diesel beat LaFitte cleanly in his hometown of Montreal, instead of the match ending in a double countout. Even if it was just a house show, LaFitte refused to do the job, and the match did end with the originally planned double countout, with the storyline pirate losing whatever little push he had.
5 DEAN (a.k.a. SHANE) DOUGLAS
In 1994, Shane Douglas shook the wrestling world when he cut one of the most unforgettable promos in wrestling history, throwing down his NWA World Heavyweight belt and declaring himself “The Franchise” of ECW. One year later, he was Dean Douglas, a college dean whose gimmick grated like nails on a chalkboard. You’ve got one of the hottest wrestlers outside of WWF at the time, and you bring him in as a college dean?
Lousy gimmick aside, the Kliq saw Douglas as a potentially nice addition to their gang, but Douglas has always been one to smell BS from miles away. He snubbed the Kliq’s offer, and the Kliq reacted by playing the former and future Franchise like a pawn, while calling him “the drizzling sh*ts” and “overrated” behind his back.
With Michaels legitimately injured after his drunken escapades got him beaten up by several Marines, the Heartbreak Kid forfeited his Intercontinental title, allowing his intended In Your House 4 opponent Douglas to win the belt. Douglas then accepted an impromptu title challenge from Razor Ramon, and lost the IC belt just 11 minutes after winning it. Two months later, in January 1996, Douglas was back in ECW.
4 ROCKY MAIVIA (a.k.a. THE ROCK)
Remember when The Rock was a fresh-faced WWF rookie named Rocky Maivia, billed as the “Blue Chipper” and showing none of the trademark swagger and promo skills that made him such a star in the Attitude Era? We sure do, and we remember how he got a big push right out of the gate, and how fans had quickly tired of his squeaky-clean persona.
Apparently, The Kliq (then down to just Michaels and Triple H) didn’t like Maivia either, and it wasn’t because of his character. Rather, it was because the kid had gotten such a nice push for a newcomer, and because the future Rock had had the upper hand in his early-1997 Intercontinental title feud with the future Game. Fortunately, Maivia remained a pro through it all, and when he returned from injury in the summer of 1997, he had turned heel and transformed into The Rock we all know and love today.
3 DAVEY BOY SMITH
Good booking suggests that if you’ve got someone wrestling in his home country, defending the belt specifically created for him, and competing with his family in attendance, the guy’s got to go over. That was originally the plan for the British Bulldog, Davey Boy Smith, as he was booked to successfully defend his European Championship against Shawn Michaels at the One Night Only pay-per-view in September 1997. He was to emerge victorious as the hometown hero, and was to defend his belt with his family, including his terminally ill sister Tracy, in attendance.
At that time, however, Michaels and Smith’s brother-in-law Bret Hart were in the middle of a heated real-life feud, and the Bulldog winning a match dedicated to his dying sister meant nothing to HBK. What mattered was making Michaels’ in-ring persona more despicable outside of America, and probably trolling the Hart family in the process. Michaels changed the booking so that he’d win the match instead, despite not needing a midcard title around his waist, and was rightfully booed out of the building by irate British fans.
2 THE BODYDONNAS (SKIP AND SUNNY)
How could we forget The Bodydonnas, a.k.a. Chris Candido and Tammy Sytch in real life? Though Skip and Sunny were likewise a real-life couple, many have claimed Sunny had really gotten around with the boys in the locker room, and one of those boys was just a sexy boy who’s not your boy toy. Worse, Michaels didn’t take well to Candido when he confronted him over his illicit escapades, and that’s probably why Candido never had much of a career in the WWF after Sunny quit The Bodydonnas in storyline.
Alas, it wasn’t just Michaels’ apparent tryst with Sytch that connected The Kliq with The Bodydonnas. Another popular backstage story tells of how one Kliq member, either 1-2-3 Kid or Razor Ramon depending on who’s telling the tale, took a big flaming poop into Sunny’s Chinese takeout. That incident gave “taking crap from The Kliq” a brand new, literal meaning.
1 BRET HART
In the eventful year in wrestling that was 1997, the mutual dislike between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels turned into outright hatred. On camera, Hart derided Michaels for posing on the pages of Playgirl, and Michaels rebutted by saying the Hitman lived his wrestling character 24-7, or as they say in the business, was a mark for himself. Michaels later on upped the ante, insinuating that Hart was having some “Sunny Days” with Tammy Sytch, something which Bret has always denied. That uncalled-for tirade led to both men brawling backstage, Michaels threatening to quit WWF, and an uneasy truce being brokered in the run-up to Survivor Series.
We could also include the tense relations between Hart and Nash before the latter bolted for WCW, and how a young Triple H tried to throw Hart under the bus by stooging off to Vince about the latter’s occasional tardiness. But the real-life Bret vs. Shawn feud really boils down to one thing, and that’s the Montreal Screwjob. It took more than ten years of bad blood before Bret and Shawn finally buried the hatchet on live TV, though these days, you’re still likely to hear Hart making some unflattering comments about Triple H.
Leave A Comment
Looking for an AD FREE EXPERIENCE on TheSportster?Get Your Free Access Now!